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Is Accused Episode 2 a true story? Is Ava based on a real surrogate?

January 25, 2023

The second episode of the Fox anthology series Accused tells the story of a woman named Ava. She is the surrogate mother to Jenny and Max’s baby, Lucie. At first everything goes smoothly between the two. But when it turns out that Lucie is deaf, things take such a drastic turn that Ava ends up kidnapping the baby. The reasons for her actions are later revealed, and the series uses this scenario to accurately portray the challenges and responsibilities of everyone involved in surrogacy. If you’re wondering if Ava’s story is based on a true story, here’s what you should know. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Is Ava based on a real surrogate?

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Credit: Shane Mahood/FOX

Ava’s story in The Accused isn’t directly based on a true story, but it seems to be inspired by real cases where a surrogate mother has kidnapped a child for various reasons. The first case that comes to mind is that of Baby M. In 1985, William and Elizabeth Stern chose surrogacy after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Mary Beth Whitehead agreed to act as both surrogate mother and egg donor. It was agreed that Mary Beth would receive $10,000 for surrogacy and would waive her parental rights after the baby was born, although they agreed to keep in touch with her to update her on the baby.

Mary Beth later changed her mind and told the Sterns that she was struggling with her feelings. Knowing how difficult it can be in such cases, the couple decided to leave her with the baby for a few days. However, when it came time to return the baby to the Sterns, Mary Beth ran off to Florida. Meanwhile, the Sterns had already applied for a court order, and police began searching for the surrogate who kept the baby for 87 days.

On the surface, Ava’s case seems to be the same. She admits she struggled with giving Lucie away to Jenny and Max, and she kidnaps the baby. However, it later emerges that her intention is nothing like that of Mary Beth, who allegedly even threatened to harm the baby if the Sterns don’t back down. For Ava, it was primarily about keeping Lucie safe as she believed her parents didn’t want her anymore because she was born deaf. Also for Crystal Kelly fleeing with the baby was the only way to get it to safety.

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Photo credits: Shane Mahood/FOX

In 2011, Crystal became a surrogate mother to a couple in New York. The child would be genetically hers as the woman’s two frozen embryos were transferred to Crystal. The couple got on very well with the surrogate who they found to be very supportive and caring. But then, on the day of the 21-week ultrasound scan, it turned out that the child would be born with health problems, including a cleft palate and a brain cyst. There was a chance that the baby would be born with Down syndrome.

This revelation made the couple reconsider and they asked Crystal to terminate the pregnancy. This came as a huge shock to Crystal, who believed the baby could have a happy life despite health issues, some of which required early surgery. They reportedly offered her $10,000 to have the abortion, but Crystal had made up her mind. She flew to Michigan to give birth to the child. It wasn’t until the couple sued Crystal that she found out the embryos didn’t belong to the couple. Soon after, the father also waived his rights, and eventually Crystal found wonderful, fabulous people who adopted the baby.

Ava’s story seems to share some similarities with Crystal’s story, but it can’t be confirmed if the writers referred to her specifically. However, it is clear that they took inspiration from cases like these to paint a realistic picture of the experiences of people involved in surrogacy that don’t go as they initially expected.